Los Angeles Galaxy (2 Events)
Los Angeles is home to a storied soccer tradition. The first professional soccer team in the Los Angeles area was the Los Angeles Kickers, formed in 1955 by the former owner of the Fall River Marksmen, Sam Mark.
Prior to the launch of Major League Soccer in 1996, teams from Los Angeles played in the Western American Soccer League, the North American Soccer League and the American Soccer League/A-League, winning ten league championships (1955, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1974, 1976), seven Lamar Hunt US Open Cups (1958, 1964, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1981), four regional championships (1955, 1956, 1958, 1961) and one international championship (1975). George Best, Johan Cruyff, and many other notable players graced the soccer field during this period in Los Angeles soccer history, for clubs such as the Los Angeles Aztecs, California Surf and the Los Angeles Salsa.
Los Angeles officially adopted and recognized the city's soccer heritage during the opening of the Home Depot Center in June 2003. In addition, the stadium features several tributes recognizing the soccer tradition in Los Angeles.
Major League Soccer was founded in 1993 as part of the United States' bid to host the 1994 FIFA World Cup. The first season took place in 1996 with Los Angeles being one of the ten founding teams. The name "Galaxy" was derived from Los Angeles being home to the "stars" of Hollywood. Los Angeles began well by clinching 1st in the Western Conference and finishing second in the MLS Cup after losing to D.C. United in the final. The 1997 season started out 1–7 after 8 games, but they went 15–9 for the rest of the season to qualify for the playoffs. The Galaxy ended up 2nd in their conference by losing to the Dallas Burn. In 1998, the Galaxy left off on a streak, eventually finishing 24–8. The Galaxy defeated the Dallas Burn, 9–3 on aggregate. They lost in the final to the Chicago Fire, 2–1 on aggregate.
The Galaxy again finished first in the Western Conference in 1999, with a final record of 20–12, with a win in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but they lost to DC United again 2–0. The 2000 season had the Galaxy in 2nd in the Western Division, at 14–10–8. Despite this, they lost to the Kansas City Wizards after a tied aggregate and a sudden death game. 2001 was another successful year for Los Angeles, winning the Open Cup and scoring 1000 all-time points, and with Cobi Jones scoring the 300th goal, but again they fell short by being defeated by Landon Donovan and the San Jose Earthquakes. Again the club clinched first in the Western Conference with a 16–9–3 record, their fifth time being first. In 2002, the Galaxy won their first MLS Cup in four tries by defeating the New England Revolution 1–0. 2003 was a poor year, with L.A. finishing 4th because they were forced to play away games due to stadium construction, though they got a good rhythm and finished 9–12–9. The Galaxy bounced back by gaining 2nd with a 11–9–10 record. They lost to the Wizards in the final, 0–2. With 2005 came one of the Galaxy's most recognized players, Landon Donovan. The club won the Open Cup again ending with a record of 13–13–6 to cap off their first decade. The Galaxy has a distinction of making the playoffs in all of the league's first 10 seasons
The 2006 season began on March 16 with the sudden death of Doug Hamilton, the team's 43-year-old general manager, who suffered a heart attack on board a plane carrying the team back from Costa Rica where they had played Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup. The team finished fifth in the Western Conference, eliminating them from playoff contention for the first time since the league's inception. Midway through the season, Steve Sampson was sacked as Head Coach, replaced by Frank Yallop. The team managed to make a run to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final, but lost 3–1 against the Chicago Fire.
In March 2007, Herbalife signed a five-year deal, worth between $4–5 million a year, with Los Angeles to be the primary shirt sponsor. Four months later, the club signed David Beckham from Real Madrid. His debut was made at The Home Depot Center before a record crowd of nearly 35,000, including many celebrities, coming on in the 78th minute in a 1–0 loss to Chelsea in a match during the World Series of Football tournament. The match brought unprecedented TV coverage from ESPN, who used 19 cameras to cover it, including one trained only on Beckham, even when he was on the bench. In that season's SuperLiga Los Angeles reached the final, but lost to Pachuca on penalties after extra time. Los Angeles nearly made the end-of-season play-offs, but were eliminated following a 1–0 loss to the Chicago Fire. In the off-season, Cobi Jones retired and, amidst rumors that he was going to be sacked, Yallop resigned as head coach following a friendly match at Home Depot Center. The San Jose Earthquakes, bought out his contract and offered a 3rd round draft pick to the Galaxy to make Yallop their new head coach. Yallop was replaced at Los Angeles by Ruud Gullit, who signed a three-year contract with the club which made him the highest paid coach in MLS history. Cobi Jones returned as assistant coach. Los Angeles went on a promotional tour of Australia and New Zealand, setting attendance records in both countries. 80,295 people showed up at Stadium Australia for the match between Sydney FC and Los Angeles Galaxy, which the home side won 5–3. They also played a tour of Asia, and competed in the inaugural Pan-Pacific Championship in Honolulu, Hawaii, finishing third after beating Sydney 2–1 in the third-place match.
In the 2008 MLS season, Los Angeles went on a seven-game winless streak which saw them drop from first place in the Western Conference to outside playoff contention, prompting the resignation of manager Ruud Gullit and firing of general manager Alexi Lalas. Gullit was replaced by Bruce Arena, but he was not able to lead Los Angeles into a playoff spot, for the third-straight season.
In the following off-season both club captain David Beckham and vice-captain Landon Donovan were involved in loan deals with European clubs until the beginning of the new MLS season; Beckham to A.C. Milan in Italy and Donovan to German club FC Bayern Munich. Donovan was seeking a permanent transfer to Munich, while Beckham was expected to return to L.A. in March, prior to the 2009 season. Beckham went on to seek a permanent transfer to Milan, in a bid to sustain his England career through the 2010 World Cup, and Milan made a bid for the player, which was rejected by Los Angeles. One day before his loan deal was to expire, Milan and Los Angeles reached an agreement to allow Beckham to stay in Italy until the conclusion of the Rossoneri's season in June, before returning to Los Angeles in July. Donovan was not offered a contract by Bayern, and returned to the US in time for the beginning of the 2009 MLS season. In the book The Beckham Experiment by Grant Wahl, Donovan openly criticized Beckham for his handling of the loan deals. Beckham and Donovan would later reconcile upon Beckham's return to Los Angeles in July.
Los Angeles finished the 2009 season top of the Western Conference, and runners-up in the MLS Supporters' Shield, qualifying for the 2009 MLS Cup. They reached the final by beating Chivas 3–2 on aggregate in the quarter-final, and Houston Dynamo 2–0, after extra time, in the semi-final. In the final they drew 1–1 with Real Salt Lake at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington, but lost 5–4 on penalties. By reaching the final they qualified for the 2010–11 CONCACAF Champions League Preliminary Round.
After the 2009 success, both Donovan and Beckham again went out on second loan spells. Donovan went to Everton FC, while Beckham returned to AC Milan, where he ruptured his achilles tendon and therefore missed his chance at playing in the World Cup for England and subsequently missing most of the Galaxy's 2010 season.
In 2010, the Galaxy stayed at the top of the table and won the Supporters' Shield, the first time MLS played a balanced schedule. They then lost to Dallas in the Western Conference Final one game away from making another appearance at MLS Cup.
In 2011, a year in which they added the Republic of Ireland's all-time leading goalscorer Robbie Keane, they won their fourth Supporters' Shield with 2 games remaining, becoming the third straight team to win consecutive Shields while amassing the second best points total in MLS history. They followed this up with their third MLS Cup, defeating Houston Dynamo 1–0 in the final. The 2011 MLS Cup was the Galaxy's first MLS Cup Victory in regulation. The 2002 and the 2005 MLS Cup wins were won in overtime.
In January 2012, after much speculation, David Beckham signed a new two-year deal with Los Angeles to secure his short-term future at the club. Despite the new contract, Beckham confirmed in November 2012 that he would be leaving the Galaxy at the end of the 2012 MLS season. On December 1, 2012, the Galaxy won their second, straight MLS Cup victory over the Houston Dynamo, 3–1. Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez won the MLS MVP trophy, heading in the 1–1 equalizer in the 60th minute. That goal was quickly followed by a Landon Donovan penalty kick, and Robbie Keane sealed the game with another penalty kick in stoppage time. In post-match interviews both Donovan and Beckham remained coy about their future MLS plans.